Ed Sheeran testified on Tuesday (April 25) in New York City in the copyright trial against him involving his Grammy-winning record, “Thinking Out Loud” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
According to BBC, heirs of Ed Townsend argue that Sheeran, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Publishing owe them money for allegedly stealing the R&B ballad. The New York Times adds that Townsend, who died in 2003, is listed as the primary songwriter of “Let’s Get It On,” earning two-thirds of the royalties from it.
Attorney Ben Crump claims the British phenom’s usage of Gaye’s lyrics during a concert is a “smoking gun,” and called footage of the performance a “confession.”
“If I had done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that,” argued Sheeran, 32, regarding the allegation.
“Most pop songs can fit over most pop songs … You could go from ‘Let it Be’ to ‘No Woman, No Cry’ and switch back,” he added, referring to songs by The Beatles and Bob Marley.
Ilene S. Farkas, the pop star’s attorney, said in her opening statement that the video does not prove copyright infringement. She also claimed Sheeran and his co-writer, Amy Wadge, created “Thinking Out Loud” independently, and the record has “commonplace ingredients” found in various songs.
Kathryn Townsend Griffin, daughter of the late songwriter, took the stand praising Sheeran initially before stating, “I have to protect my father’s legacy.”
The complaint was originally filed in 2017, but has since been delayed multiple times. The lawsuit against Sheeran involves the two records’ underlying musical composition—melodies, chords and lyrics—but not the specific recordings.
The trial is estimated to last at least one week and if Sheeran is found liable, it will enter phase two to determine how much is owed. Townsend’s estate is seeking $100 million in damages.